RCMP members have ratified their first collective agreement, and it provides a salary increase of 23.7 per cent over six years — an increase that has New Brunswick municipalities calculating how much more they will be paying for policing.
The contract signed Aug. 6 between the federal Treasury Board and National Police Federation, the RCMP union, includes retroactive pay increases.
Dan Murphy, executive director of the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick, said communities are just starting to get the details of the contract. He said the cost of policing has been among the top issues for municipalities after the province's planned reforms to local governance.
"It's kind of an issue that affects smaller municipalities as well as larger municipalities," Murphy said in an interview. "So everyone is kind of grappling with what this could mean, trying to make plans accordingly."
In Moncton, where Codiac Regional RCMP is the largest detachment in the province, $3.5 million had been set aside by the Codiac Regional Policing Authority to cover retroactive payments. The amount was based on an assumed 2.5 per cent annual wage increase, though the actual increase is higher.
"We think there's going to be a shortfall, we just do not know at this point what the amount is," Jacques Doucet, Moncton's chief financial officer, said in an interview Monday evening.
Doucet said the details of the contract were received late last week, and its implications are still being analyzed by RCMP and the regional policing authority, which oversees the Mounties who police Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview.
Doucet said they need to know who was on staff in the previous years, their rank, and who was on leave before a more complete accounting can be done. When that can be done will depend on the RCMP, which has the required payroll information.
The contract covers RCMP reservists and officers below the rank of inspector. It says pay rates will change within 90 days of the agreement being signed.
Union president Brian Sauvé has previously said that his goal was to bring Mountie pay in line with other police agencies. In a statement announcing the tentative agreement in June, Sauvé said RCMP pay "fell significantly behind municipal and provincial police counterparts."
In Fredericton, which has its own police force, a first class constable earned $87,008.66 in 2016, and $97,359.61 in 2020, according to their pay scale.
Under the RCMP's 2016 pay scale, a first class constable would earn $86,110. That rises to to $106,576 by next April. A corporal who made $94,292 in 2016 would see their pay rise to $116,703 next year.
Codiac RCMP Insp. Benoit Joliette, speaking to Moncton council Monday night, acknowledged the new contract and said the force is working to determine its impact.
"We'll keep working with the three communities to see what the impact will be," Joliette said.
Under the policing contract, Moncton pays about 70 per cent of the $33 million Codiac RCMP budget, with Dieppe paying about 18 per cent and Riverview covering the rest.
"It's been on our radar for a long time," Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold said of the salary increase. "We've known it was coming. But as far as the precision of what the implications will be, we don't know those exactly right at this time."
The increase comes as the city has yet to make a decision on whether to go ahead with building a new Codiac RCMP station. The cost, once pegged at $46 million, has risen but the city has not made the new estimate public.